Soul Skis

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Dr. Delam
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Location: Truckee

Soul Skis

Post by Dr. Delam » Sun Mar 08, 2009 9:32 pm

It sure is cool riding up the lift with someone and telling them that you made the skis that you are skiing on. Everyone is amazed that you can actually make a great pair of skis in your garage. Thanks to skibuilders.com and all the contributors on this site, I have made some skis that peform better than I ever imagined. There have been times when I have thought about abandoning the process but I am so glad I stuck with it.

I started getting things rolling with my coworker and friend Three31. He took care of getting the press set up and assembled so you can check his postings for pics. We got a heat blanket and controller setup from Heatcon. We each made different molds to start out since I like skis a little shorter.

For my first pair I had the idea of a tip rocker only ski. I didn't like the wheely effect of the spatula when landing airs so I wanted zero camber for the rest of the ski. For sidecut dimensions, I wanted to combine a regular ski with a reverse sidecut ski and came up with zero sidecut from tip to heelpiece and taper in the tail. 125-125-120.

I stuck with a simple approach of aspen core with wood sidewalls, fiberglass, fabric graphics and clear top sheet.

The first ski had a bit of core shift since it was super tight fitting the mold into the press frame. Too much shoving and lack of a dry layup test run. There was a gap in the sidewall that I filled with a glue gun.

It turns out that I really didn't like the way they skied anyway so no big deal. They skied well in pure pow but felt too unbalanced with just tip rocker in the chop. I figure if I made the tail considerably narrower or put sidecut underfoot then they would be more user friendly and balanced. I even tried moving the mounting point but still wasn't too impressed.

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For my next pair I wanted to stick to a more traditional shape. I based my dimensions on a ski that I used to have, the Igneous Fat Fall Line. I wanted a little wider and went with 127-102-112, 185 cm. Again, I stuck with an Aspen core, fiberglass, vds, fabric graphic with a painted stencil logo and clear top sheet . This time I tried sidewall material from skibuilders. I abraded the sidewall but forgot to flame treat and once I hit a rock things went downhill from there. I really liked the way they skied but they only lasted about 20 days before they really started to delam above and below the sidewall.

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I needed to replace my Atomic Powder Plus since their days were numbered from landing on too many rocks. I loved the shape but wanted a twin tip for easier billy goating maneuvers and wanted a little rocker for slarvability. I stuck with the same dimensions of 135-115-125 for the shape. I used a zero camber mold and used top heat only to achieve a continuous tip and tail reverse camber of about one cm. I went with a vertical grain wood fir core 2-12-2 and didn't use any sidewall material. The graphics are fabric from Joann's with a clear top sheet. I love these skis. I have about 40 days on them so far and they are holding up great, even after hitting numerous rocks. Not only are they great in pow, but they blast through corn and are easily managed on groomers. I hope these last a long time. My only complaint is that they sometimes seem too light and chatter a bit on the really firm snow. I am not sure of what I would use to dampen them up so any suggestions are appreciated.

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My wife saw how much fun I was having on my skis so she wanted a pair for herself. I figured something light and soft would be best for her so I went with a poplar core 2-11-2. I gave her skis more sidecut than mine since that is what she is used to. The dimensions are 140-115-128. They came out softer than I expected but she loves them. In my core profile design I had the taper start too early so that is why I think the tips and tails are so forgiving. She really isn't a high speeder or straightliner so as long as she doesn't break them they'll be fine. For this pair I decided to not do a full wrap on the edges. I never enjoyed trying to make perfect bends in the tip and tail. Other skis that I have owned without full wrap edges have always held up fine and after a dozen days so are these. I used three31's adjustable mold with zero camber and did top heat to achieve a slight reverse camber of one cm. She picked out the fabric from Joann's and she is having a blast on her skis that I gave her for Christmas.

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My son is still growing so he was due a new pair of sticks. He likes the park as much as I do so I wanted to make him something that was versatile enough for all mountain skiing and park. The dimensions I decided on were 114-88-104 with a length of 163 cm. I went with a poplar core again and this time I added an extra top layer of glass to stiffen them up some more. The edges stopped 5 cm past the contact point and I am now never doing full wrap edges again. My son is a huge AC/DC fan so I came up with the idea of making AC/DSKIS. I picked up some red fabric from the store and designed the logos and got some artwork on the computer. I printed it on iron on transfer sheets and it worked great. It came out clean and is nice to have it ready to go before layup. I used black tip and tail spacer and you can see where it is darker there. Should have used white. I used three31's cat track and heated it up in the oven prior to layup. I was trying to achieve zero camber with just a bottom heat blanket and it worked well. They came out with maybe a millimeter of camber which is acceptable in my book. They came out with a concave base which I wasn't too pleased with. I am still at a loss why this happened since this is the first time this has occurred. I hand tuned them as much as I could to achieve some degree of base edge bevel and can say that I only really notice it when tracking totally flat on a groomer. I had to try them out of course since my son and I have the same boot size.

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Other random bits of info that I want to pass along: I have been using QCM 49 resin and 408 hardener and it has held everything together great except for the one pair where I didn't prep the sidewalls. I usually press at 180 degrees at 50 psi. I have been cutting my tip spacer straight across at the start of the tip and tail radii. My least favorite part of ski building is profiling cores. When cutting out templates a downward cutting blade makes seeing your line much easier since the paper doesn't curl up and dust exits out the bottom. I have found the Bosch progressor for metal blades the best for cutting off flashing. An old version of Turbo cad can be found on ebay for super cheap and is easy to use for templates. Make sure you have a ton of quick clamps for edge attachment and don't pull them off one side until the other side is done or your base can banana out. Making skis perfectly factory flat has been a challenge. I prefer base high over edge high any day though. I prefer to do a vertical sidewall with a slight step above the edge using a straight router bit. Working as a ski tech for 20 years I have seen the most edge and sidewall damage with angled sidewalls. I have had good luck with Bosch tools and use their table saw, trim router, jigsaw and I also love all my Makita stuff including planer, compressor, and drills . Harbor Freight has a real nice digital caliper for about 15 bucks which is super accurate especially when profiling cores. I got my .04 aluminum for the molds from Onlinemetals.com but their prices seem to have gone up quite a bit since my last order.

Thanks to everyone who contributes here. This site is awesome and I couldn't have gotten this far without it. Time to design the next pair!

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shopvac
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Post by shopvac » Mon Mar 09, 2009 1:31 pm

The skis look great! Thanks for such a detailed overview and all of the helpful hints at the end of the post. Do you think you will try and work with the P-tex material for sidewalls or are you happy with using wood? We have only used wood and so far we don't have any problems but we only have <20 days on our skis.

For the skis that you mentioned were too light and chatter, how about adding in a little more dense wood with the fir to make them heavier and hopefully more damp. My brother demoed a couple pairs of Moment skis earlier this year and they were all really light. They all got tossed around in crud and on harder snow. We really didn't like how they skied overall. I think it was because the skis were way to light for downhill skis. If we were hiking or skiing in the backcountry a lot then I am sure we would have liked the lightweight feel, but since we are mostly skiing at a resort the super lightweight skis are not necessary. We like to use a 50/50 mix of poplar and ash in our cores. If you want a little bit lighter ski you can use more poplar and vise-versa.

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MontuckyMadman
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Post by MontuckyMadman » Mon Mar 09, 2009 8:12 pm

this is fugging awesome way to go man.

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Dr. Delam
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Planer Crib

Post by Dr. Delam » Fri May 22, 2009 12:07 am

I finally got around to making a planer crib for profiling my cores. I never thought I could have a core profiled in 5 minutes! I should have done this from the start.

I used brad nails to secure the spacers to the bottom frame so it is easy to pop them off and change them if necessary.

I didn't have any grip tape so I used a glue gun at the tip of the core to secure it to the platform. This helps when entering the planer since the tip wants to rise up making it a little harder to slide it in the planer.

I was also thinking of counter sinking some screws near the core's apex to secure it down. I could then use these screw holes for standoffs on the base during layup to keep the core from moving.

I was hesitant to only use grip tape since I still think the core might move when I am carrying the crib to refeed it. I think I would be checking it every time I sent it through just to make sure.

My test core came out pretty darn good. It came out to within a tenth of a mm of my design specs. Time to get some cores ready for the real deal.

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dbtahoe
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Post by dbtahoe » Fri May 22, 2009 6:13 am

Dr. Delam,

It's your neighbor to the south east. What's the distance between the feed rollers on your planner? You didn't have any problems with chipping?

I used self adhesive skateboard deck grip on my crib to hold the core in place and it worked great. The only way I have found to resolve the leading and trailing edge from lifting (and chipping in my case), is to leave 4" of drop on both ends and extending the flat section of the crib so that the core reaches the pressure of the exit roller before the feed roller starts pressing the core down to create the profile.

Obviously depending on the design of your planner, this may or may not apply.

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Dr. Delam
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Post by Dr. Delam » Fri May 22, 2009 9:41 am

The distance between the rollers is 5 1/16" so I made the crib and test cores long enough to accommodate the snipe at the ends. I didn't have any chipping at all on my doug fir and MDF test pieces. My only complaint is that if I didn't glue down the tip I had to press it down to feed it in the planer. It is just a little awkward to do when you are holding the sled in your other hand.

Snipe is an inherent problem in all planers due to the distance between feed rollers. Some are better than others and getting used to your planer helps too.

If you run your cores long and cut off the snipeage you should be good.
Keep sharp blades on hand too. If your planer starts getting louder or your ran some prefinished bamboo flooring, replace those knives.

dbtahoe
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Post by dbtahoe » Fri May 22, 2009 3:16 pm

Try a hot glue gun. It holds well and you don't have to worry about wrecking your blades.

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shopvac
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Post by shopvac » Fri May 22, 2009 7:59 pm

How much wood do you guys take off on each pass or how many passes do you typically need to do to take your core down from start to finish? I profile the same way and we usually take off a very small amount each time. I think we probably take off 1mm each time for a total of 10-12 passes since we start with a core blank that is roughly 13-14mm thick and we profile down to 2-12-2. Does anyone take off more on each pass? Just trying to get a feel for how others are using their 13" planers. I have the rigid 13" model (sells for $350 or so, nothing too fancy). Also, we use the thin carpet double sided tape to hold the cores down. No problems with that but I would like to try the grip tape someday.

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Dr. Delam
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Post by Dr. Delam » Sat May 23, 2009 11:16 pm

You could probably take a little more off than that on each pass but I did about the same as you. Your planer manual should give the recommended material removal for a given width of stock and type of material. My manual says 3 mm max for material under 150 mm wide. When in doubt, go with more passes. It doesn't really take that long to do a few more passes unless you are doing them in bulk.

The Ridgid Planer is actually a really good planer and well worth the money. My boss has one and I have used it a lot. One reason I chose the Makita over the Ridgid is that the Makita auto locks the height and the Ridgid you are supposed to manually flip the lock lever. I always forget to relock it when using the Ridgid and it never seems to move anyway.

I am getting some new core material soon and am actually looking forward to making cores. I never thought I would say that. Plus, my dog loves to sleep in the planer shavings.

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Dr. Delam
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Soul Billy

Post by Dr. Delam » Fri Aug 14, 2009 12:40 am

Today I finished up a pair of skis that I had been planning for some time. I wanted to build a pair of skis as a tribute to my father. He was my hero. He was the one who got me on skis at age 2, took me skiing every weekend growing up, took me out west to show me the goods, and bought me my first set of tuning supplies. It is pretty much his fault that I am a ski addict so I at least owe him a pair of skis in his memory.

I call the ski the "Billy" for two reasons. First, my dad's name was Bill and second I love to billy goat around on rocks.

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I based my dimensions on the Soul Ride skis which had sidewall bonding issues and needed to be replaced. I made a new template though so I could avoid the full tip and tail edge wrap and I wanted to change the tip shape to more rounded.

I used a poplar blank for the core from the local Home Depot, then shaped it and attached maple sidewalls for some edge beef. Before profiling, I drilled two holes in the core that were to be used later for dowel standoff locating pins. I then put two screws in my planer crib to fit in these holes to keep the core from moving while planing. I screwed them in so the heads would be below the finished planing depth of course. This worked out well as I never had to check to see if the center was aligned and no need to buy grip tape. I didn't like the hot glue method either that I tried since you can't switch cores easily. I planed to 2.2 tip and tail and 12.4 core apex. This was my first pair of skis where I used the standoffs to keep the core locked in. It works great and offers peace of mind that everything is in place without the need to make all the materials super wide.

In my layup I did my usual VDS, bottom layer 22oz glass, core, top 22 oz glass, fabric graphics, and clear top sheet. But this time I put a little extra "Soul" in my Soul Skis. I sprinkled some of my dad's ashes in the ski while laying it up. This way they are guaranteed to hold together!

I did have issues during the layup. It was a hot day and the sun was coming around and hitting the garage. I could feel the epoxy getting hot while putting the graphics down. I believe it heated up the bottom layers and had an effect on my camber. I was trying to achieve a flat ski with a zero camber mold, bottom heat, and preheated cat track. During a previous layup this worked great for zero camber. But this time I ended up with about 3/4 cm camber. I also used a hardboard masonite like material under the cat track which didn't transfer the heat very well to the top layers. I need to buy some more aluminum but it is expensive. This was another affirmation about how important it is to keep all of the variables consistent which isn't easy when working in a cold garage in the winter and a hot one in the summer.

For the next ski I started earlier in the day before it got too hot and no problems with the epoxy. I didn't preheat the cat track this time so I could try and match the camber to the first ski. It came out pretty close but maybe 2 more mm of camber.

I haven't ground the skis yet but they seem to be a little edge high like the last pair I made. I did an edge relief in the core and gave it ample width just in case there was some incidental core shift which there wasn't. I checked the relief depth with some scrap edge and it was right on. I don't know what else to do here. Maybe I'll go deeper next time and see if that helps.

For the graphics I wanted something bold that would stand out as my dad wasn't afraid to stand out. He sometimes skied in goofy bright colored outfits or a rainbow colored wig. I picked out some tye-die fabric that seemed to be right up his alley. For the logos and pictures, I used the iron on material printed with my inkjet. I remembered how much my dad liked Snickers bars so I chose the Snickers logo and font.

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My dad had a heart attack while riding a chairlift at Okemo, VT. It was opening day and I guess he was too excited to make the first turns of the year. He was on a chairlift to heaven.

I sure am glad that I made these skis and can't wait to mount them up. Whenever I am skiing I can just look down at them and I'll instantly have a smile on my face. Thanks for the great memories dad. This one's for you.

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Last edited by Dr. Delam on Fri Aug 14, 2009 3:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

plywood
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Post by plywood » Fri Aug 14, 2009 3:57 am

those are some nice graphics! 40 years since woodstock, eh! ;)
plywood freeride industries - go ply, ride wood!

dg
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Post by dg » Fri Aug 14, 2009 12:55 pm

really touching backstory to that too - lovely stuff !

dan

Three31
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Post by Three31 » Sat Aug 15, 2009 3:54 pm

Those skis turned out great! Great write up too.
Brian

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bigKam
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Post by bigKam » Wed Aug 19, 2009 12:09 am

RAD!

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Dr. Delam
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Post by Dr. Delam » Thu Aug 20, 2009 11:02 pm

I think I figured out why my last couple pair of skis came out edge high.

I recently got some new materials and I could instantly tell that the base material was thicker than what I had been using. I got out my digital calipers and took some measurements. The old base material is 1.18 mm thick and the new stuff is 1.4 mm. The depth of the edge is also 1.4.

So when the edge flange is sitting on the base, the bottom of the edge is not flush with the bottom of the base but .22 mm lower. Thus, railed skis. I guess I'll just grind 'em but I wish I just had the right thickness base material to begin with, especially the way I like to hit rocks!

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